A Beginner’s Guide to Buying a Car

Whether you are preparing to purchase your first car or you are ready to trade up, taking smart steps at every stage in the process is a necessity. Your next vehicle will impact more than just your daily driving experience and outward societal appeal. It can affect your safety, your finances and many other factors. Before you visit a dealership and test drive the models that you are interested in, follow these preliminary steps to get off on the right foot.

List Your Needs and Wants

The time to define your needs and wants is well before you arrive at the dealership. The right vehicle has adequate passenger and cargo space for your current needs as well as for any changing needs that you anticipate within the next few years. If you intend to use the vehicle for towing or hauling, it should have ample horsepower. In addition to these and other needs, there may be safety features and technologies that you prefer. When you arrive at the dealership, the incredible appeal of fully loaded vehicles and the high-pressure sales tactics of your salesperson may motivate you to buy more than you can afford or than you need. Refer strictly to your list of needs and wants to avoid overbuying.

Determine Affordability

Many drivers have been overwhelmed by buyer’s remorse after taking home a car that they could not reasonably afford. Many drivers assume that they can manage any monthly loan payment that they qualify for. In reality, you may qualify for a much larger auto loan payment than you can manage. After all, you have savings goals, lifestyle expenses that you want to work into your budget and other financial factors that lenders do not take into consideration. In addition, your personal affordability is based on the auto loan payment as well as fuel expenses, auto insurance, maintenance costs and more. These factors vary by vehicle, so you should research each of them carefully before you finalize purchase plans.

Get Pre-Qualified


Some drivers get prequalified for auto financing as a first step, or they rely on the dealership to provide financing. Both of these may place you in a regrettable situation down the road. Consider that an auto lender will not take into account many aspects of your budget when determining the maximum loan amount that you qualify for. In many cases, the maximum loan amount does not yield monthly payments that are easy to work into the driver’s budget. In addition, when you let the dealer set up financing for you, you may wonder if you got the best deal possible. The dealer receives a financial incentive for selling loans to drivers, so their motivation to get you into a specific loan is not always based on your best interests. A better idea is to get pre-qualified on your own before you stop by the dealership. Shop for the best terms that you can find, analyze the monthly payment with your budget to ensure affordability. Then, ask the dealership to beat the terms that you have independently located.

Compare Models Carefully


After you have taken these steps, you can more confidently pick out the model that is right for you. Many models from competing manufacturers are similar in terms of size and appearance, but they may vary in the areas of power, features, safety ratings, price and more. While you may be drawn to a specific make and make, compare it against the competition to ensure that you are making a smart buying decision. Read consumer comments and safety reviews as well.

Conclusion


After you have taken these steps, you can more confidently pick out the model that is right for you. Many models from competing manufacturers are similar in terms of size and appearance, but they may vary in the areas of power, features, safety ratings, price and more. While you may be drawn to a specific make and make, compare it against the competition to ensure that you are making a smart buying decision. Read consumer comments and safety reviews as well.

A new vehicle purchase will substantially impact your life in for at least the next several years. While you may be excited to get into your new car, you may enjoy your purchase fully when you spend a few hours walking through these steps before taking a test drive and finalizing your auto purchase plans

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